“I didn’t know that with the abolition of slavery in 1833, it’s the slave owners who were paid. The biggest bailout granted to the banks until 2009. I didn’t know how much the Uk held its wealth through its former Empire and exploiation. That it had no excuses. I didn’t know”.
Introduction of The Great Experiment
Exposing the little-known history of the Indian migrant labourers indentured to work on plantations around the world following the Abolition of Slavery, the award-winning Border Crossings brings The Great Experiment to audiences across London.
This new work recounts the moment in history when more than two million Indians were indentured to replace slave labour in Mauritius, Malaysia, the Caribbean and mainland Africa as part of The Great Experiment. Carefully devised by performers from various backgrounds in a process led by those of Mauritian heritage, The Great Experiment, directed by Michael Walling, tells two parallel stories – that of the labourers and that of the actors themselves grappling with their own relationships to this difficult history and its enduring effects that are still felt today.
‘I found it very powerful and challenging. It was quite emotional for me to see Mauritian culture and language on a London stage for the first time.’ Audience member
‘By focussing on an island whose history has rarely featured in our collective consciousness about slavery and indenture, Border Crossings’ haunting stories provide us with the tools to explore our global history, our shame, and to recognise where the 21st century needs to learn from the past.’ The Reviews Hub
Director Michael Walling comments, “most of Border Crossings’ previous work has been very contemporary – but the current moment seems to call for a new look at our histories, and particularly the untold histories of the British Empire. The story of the Indentured migrations feels incredibly resonant at a time when people are travelling the world in search of a better life – not just because these Indian labourers also migrated for work, but also because their work laid the foundations for the very inequalities which make Europe and America so rich, and the global South so poor today. Our confrontation with this history has brought into the open some incredibly powerful questions about who we are in the UK today: how our multicultural space came into being and why it contains so many unresolved divisions. The past is not past.”
As the conversation surrounding migration becomes increasingly vehement and divisive, The Great Experiment galvanises an urgent intercultural dialogue that both illuminates our hidden history and interrogates who has the right and the responsibility to retell it. Generously supported by Arts Council England, Heritage Fund, London Community Foundation and Cockayne Foundation, it will be staged in both theatres and museums across London alongside an exciting programme of workshops, talks and museum collection days.
Casting and Information
Cast: Nisha Dassyne, David Furlong, Tony Guilfoyle and Rosanna Lowe
Director: Michael Walling
Designer: Shiraz Bayjoo
Lighting designer: Cat Webb
MovementDirector: Maria da Luz Ghoumrassi
Assistant Director: Carlota Arencibia
6th – 7th February 2020
39 London Road, Enfield, EN2 6DS
11th – 15th February 2020
356 Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, SW18 4ES
18th – 19th February 2020
8, Latimer Industrial Estate, Latimer Road, W10 6RQ
21st – 22nd February 2020
King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9HT
23rd February 2020
Museum of London Docklands
No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay, London E14 4AL